Connecting the Dots… with Google Earth

Connecting the Dots… with Google Earth or creating a virtual fieldtrip.

It is all about facilitating for our students to connect dots… to let them make connections to previously learned knowledge. We all know the frustration as teachers when we realize that our students don’t take what they have learned in our classroom and apply it when learning something new with another teacher. It seems sometimes that they can and will only pull out of and associate certain knowledge from the furthest recesses of their brain in a particular classroom and with a specific teacher. Cross-curricular or interdisciplinary teaching is trying to accomplish that students become conscious of “It’s all connected…”.

google earth

Psss, No the earth is not shown up side down, just a different country “on top of the world”. 😉

Google Maps and Google Earth are amazing tools to accomplish just that. Both allow you to create placemarks with integrated images, links, embedded videos and descriptive text. Google Maps are embeddable into your websites, blogs and wikis and you can invite other users to collaborate creating a map with you. Google Earth will allow you to save KML and KMZ files that you can publish on your site and when clicked on will automatically open up Google Earth (if installed on the machine). Google Earth also offers to possibility to “fly” from placemark to placemark as if shown as a movie.

Here is how I am creating a virtual field trip for my elementary school students to help them connect the dots of our Global Studies programs. I have started creating a map in Google Maps. Added all the placemarks, entered descriptions and inserted images with a Flickr URL and used the embed code from YouTube. Unfortunately I am realizing that the video function does not seem to be supported by MACs.

google maps

Once the map was complete in Google Maps, I used the “View in Google Earth”. This gave me the option to saving as a KML file or open directly in Google Earth. Make sure that all your placemarks are created in the same order you want the “flight” to show in Google Earth. I was not able to change the order of the placemarks in Google Maps or Google Earth later.


  1. Create placemarks in the order you want
  2. Insert images, description and links
  3. First save the KML file
  4. Copy the embed code to insert on the classroom blog
  5. Open the map up with Google Earth
  6. Take a virtual flight with your class

Once opened in Google Earth, the map folder is placed under Temporary places. Just drag and drop into My Places. Now you can click on the Play button and the “flight” with start.

Here is the embedded Egypt Trip in Google Maps I created.

View Larger Map

You can also download the KML file to open up in Google Earth here:

Here is a site that let’s you easily create a KML files for one specific location:

Check out an amazing resource at Juicy Geography’s Google Earth in the Classroom. About the blog author:

Noel Jenkins is an Advanced Skills Teacher working in the South West of England. He specializes in creative approaches to teaching and learning, and is particularly interested in ICT and web-based technologies.